Coronavirus update: waste management sector

 

CIWM Briefing Note: This document draws on the latest guidance and understanding, and will be updated and reissued as appropriate. Updates on previous versions are highlighted for ease of reference.

Coronavirus update: UK waste management sector

  1. COVID-19 legislation updates / recovery plans
  2. Test and Trace programmes
  3. Testing for essential waste sector workers
  4. UK Border Measures – exemptions for specialist skills
  5. Health & Safety information and guidance
  6. Waste Collection and HWRCs
  7. Regulation and Compliance
  8. Business support schemes and announcements
  9. Employment (apprenticeships and shortage occupation list consultation)
  10. Public sector procurement
  11. Planning Updates & Guidance
  12. Transport and logistics

1. COVID-19 legislation updates / recovery plans

04.06.20 Latest changes to lockdown restrictions

The Republic of Ireland is expected to announce the further easing of lockdown restrictions on Monday 8th June. Across the UK, the rules are as follows (table courtesy of the BBC):

Latest rules England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland
How many people? Up to 6 Up to 8 from 2 households Any number from 2 households Up to 6
At what distance? 2 metres 2 metres 2 metres 2 metres
Where? Anywhere outdoors Anywhere outdoors, ideally within 5 miles Anywhere outdoors, ideally within 5 miles Anywhere outdoors
From when? Now Now Now Now

ENGLAND

11.05.20 The government has published an updated FAQ to accompany its recovery plan for England, which sets out how the England plans to restart following the coronavirus outbreak.

NORTHERN IRELAND

29.05.20 Northern Ireland economy Minster publishes outline plan for economic recovery in Charting a course for the economy which extends the steps in the five-stage plan published 12 May.

12.05.20 The Northern Ireland Executive has published a five-stage plan for easing the Covid-19 lockdown in Northern Ireland. The plan does not include a detailed timetable but sets out indicative steps across different sectors for the relaxation of restrictions.

SCOTLAND

28.05.20 Changes to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a number of changes to lockdown restrictions as part of the phased approach. Measures that will come into force in Phase 1 include:

From today (29 May):

  • one household can now meet up with another outdoors;
  • public outdoor spaces can now be used for recreational purposes, with physical distancing between households maintained at all times;
  • people can now travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but should remain in the local area;
  • most outdoor workplaces to resume with physical distancing measures in place once guidance is agreed, including horticulture, landscaping and garden centres, forestry and environmental management;
  • the construction sector is expected to be able to implement the first phase in its restart plan;
  • food outlets, restaurants and cafes are able to provide delivery, take-away and drive-through food options in line with guidance and complying and safe physical distancing measures; and
  • unrestricted outdoor exercise and some non-contact outdoor activities within the local area – such as golf, outdoor tennis and angling – can resume provided physical distancing is followed.

From Monday (1 June)

  • Household Waste Recycling Centres to begin to reopen; and
  • staff can return to schools subject to risk assessments and appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures being in place to support this.

From Wednesday (3 June)

  • child minding services and fully outdoor nursery provision will be available subject to increased hygiene measures, small group working and physical distancing of adults.

21.05.20 Scotland published recovery plan: Scottish Government has published Scotland’s Route map through and out of the crisis, providing details of a phased approach to lifting the current COVID-19 restrictions. The timetable includes plans to re-open HWRCs.

11.05.20 Scotland proposes Second Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill

Further emergency measures have been included in a new Bill to protect people facing financial hardship and allow public services to operate effectively. There are also recommended legislative changes in areas including non-domestic rates relief and the criminal justice system.

10.05.20 Updated advice on going outdoors

Scottish Government has changed the advice on going outdoors to allow people to exercise more than once a day. This activity should continue to take place close to home and should be undertaken alone or with members of the same household.

WALES

29.05.20 Stay local to keep Wales safe

Plans to allow family and friends to meet outside have been unveiled by First Minister Mark Drakeford as the strict stay-at-home coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations are eased in Wales. From Monday, 2 households in the same local area will be able to meet outdoors. In doing this, however, people must follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus. The accompanying guidance can be found here.

27.05.20 Wales Care home testing guidance

Interim guidance is to aid health boards, care home providers for adults and children, local authorities, and others to interpret and implement the extended testing policy for care homes in Wales.

15.05.20 Welsh Government has published ‘Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation’, a plan for easing COVID-19 restrictions. The plan does not provide a timetable but decisions will be based on the latest scientific advice and based on a traffic-light system for phased reductions over time.

30.04.20 The Welsh Government has updated COVID-19 stay-at-home regulations, changing the core requirement for people not to leave the place where they live to a requirement not to leave or remain away from that place.  This is to help those with particular health problems or families with children with learning disabilities and autism in particular. There is also an update on closure of businesses and FAQs on what you and businesses can and cannot do.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

21.05.20 Ireland is now in Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. The latest information, advice and guidelines is published here and will be updated daily

03.05.20 The Republic of Ireland Government (Taoiseach) has published a ‘Roadmap for reopening society and business’. The Roadmap sets out a staged, 5-phase approach to lifting COVID-19 restrictions, which will be rolled out between 18th May and the 10 August. The Taoiseach also announced 2 changes to the restrictions put in place to protect citizens all from the spread of COVID-19 that come into effect on the 5 May.

2. Test and trace programmes

ENGLAND

27.05.20 The Department of Health launches new Test and Trace programme for England

The Department of Health has published details of the new Test and Trace programme for England to help control the spread of COVID-19. From 28 May, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.

People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop unknowingly spreading the virus. If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period. Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days. A range of guidance documents has been published:

SCOTLAND

26.05.20 Scottish Government launches Test and Protect programme for Scotland

Scotland’s Test and Protect Programme will be rolled out across all health boards from Thurs 28 May and guidance on the approach has been published both for employers and for the wider general public wider general public.

The guidance for employers states:
“if an employee becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms at work.  The person should leave work to self‑isolate straight away and, if possible, wear a face covering on route and avoid public transport.  Direct your employees to www.nhsinform.scot or, if they can’t get online, call 0800 028 2816, to arrange to get tested. 

“Until they have been tested and told if it is safe to leave home, employers should make sure that staff do not have to, or feel that they have to, come in to work.  Employees can request an isolation note through NHS Inform.

People who have tested positive for the virus will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days. NHS contact tracers will interview them and get in touch with people they have been in close contact with, and tell them they must self-isolate for 14 days.  If your employees are informed by a contact tracer that they should isolate, you should help them to do so straight away.  They may feel well, as the virus could still be incubating when they are asked to isolate. Some people who are asked to isolate may not become unwell, but they must stay at home and self-isolate for the full 14 days.  You can ask them to work from home if they are able to and they are not unwell.”

WALES

27.05.20 Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services statement on Test, Trace, Protect

Welsh Government has published a Written Statement updating its approach to contact tracing, and confirming that it will be implementing contact tracing on a phased basis from 1 June. The approach will include learning from pilot programmes run in Hywel Dda, Powys, Betsi Cadwaladr and Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board areas since 18 May.

3. Coronavirus testing for essential waste sector workers

Anyone in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland experiencing a new, continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus . Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.

If you’re an essential worker in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can apply for priority testing through GOV.UK by following the guidance on testing for essential workers below. You can also get tested through this route if you have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker. These tests for essential workers are prioritised over the tests available for the wider public through the NHS. There is further information available on key worker testing in:

11.05.20 The Department for Health & Social Care has now digitised the process for booking Covid-19 tests. The self-referral portal enables individuals to book a test themselves. Alternatively, employers can refer staff using an employer portal and accounts for the portal can be requested by emailing portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk. The self-referral and employer referral test booking routes are available for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

SCOTLAND

11.05.20 Scottish Government has published a new prioritisation matrix for key workers to be tested for COVID-19 during the lockdown period.

WALES

13.05.20 Welsh Government has published a new testing strategy to test the public and trace the spread of coronavirus in Wales. The plan includes:

  • increasing testing of critical workers to enable them to return to work
  • a new system of home testing for the public if they have coronavirus symptoms
  • a new app to track symptoms in the general population and contact others who have symptoms or have tested positive

4. UK Border Measures – exemptions for specialist skills

26.05.20 Specialist skilled workers from outside the UK to be exempt from 14-day quarantine rules

Last week, the Government announced a series of UK border measures – effective from 8th June – to help guard against a second wave of coronavirus infections. The new regime will be in place across the UK but enforcement measures and implementation date will be set individually by the Devolved Administrations. The measures will be subject to review every three weeks.

A number of exemptions have now been announced, including for workers with specialist skills related to the resources and waste sector, who will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine rule. The exemption covers:

“a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works (including commissioning, maintenance, repairs and safety checks) or to fulfil contractual obligations or warranty specifications in, or in connection with, waste management facilities used for the management, sorting, treatment, recovery, or disposal of waste (including energy from waste)”

03.06.20 Further guidance, including on what documentation and contact/travel information will be required to support exempt workers entering the UK has been published and is available here. For workers with waste-related specialist technical skills, the guidance states that they will need to:

  • provide journey and contact details and
  • show a letter from your company at the border which includes:
  • your personal details, such as name and address
  • contact details for your employer
  • contact details for the waste management business or organisation you’ll be completing work for in the UK
  • detail of what work you’ll be doing
  • any photo identification issued by the employer

5. Health & Safety information and guidance

The protection of both waste management workers and the general public means that it is essential that the highest levels of health and safety are observed, including providing adequate and hygienic washing facilities for personnel, updated risk assessments, deployment and use of appropriate PPE, and clear procedures in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workforce.

04.06.20 The Waste Industry Safety & Health Forum COVID-19 information: WISH has issued the sixth version of their information note COVID19 and waste management activities. Changes from the last version, which are summarised at the top of each section for ease of reference, include:

  • inclusion of references to track and trace;
  • some expanded comments about flytips;
  • updates to weblinks and references including links to guidance from the Devolved Administrations as well as HMG workplace advice documents; and
  • the provision of checklists which can be used by employers and other duty holders to develop tools for the assessment of their COVID-19 arrangements and to monitor compliance with them.

There is also a new reference document which can be downloaded and provides example COVID-19 checklists.

NORTHERN IRELAND

WISH(NI) has issued two COVID-19 advice documents for the waste management sector:

In the coming days these and further documents will be available on the HSENI website or via the WISHNI LinkedIn page which is available at here.

Working Safely Guidance

UK governments have now all issued guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic

28.05.20 HSE guidance: Using PPE at work during the coronavirus outbreak

During the coronavirus outbreak, HSE has worked with others to develop guidance about current issues with PPE (personal protective equipment). HSE also has specific advice to help employers and workers.

28.05.20 Scottish Government updates its sector specific guidance

Scottish Government has published updated sector guidance on safe working, and all the relevant guidance can be found here, including for the construction sector

Social distancing and face covering guidance

Guidance on Legionella risks during the coronavirus outbreak

HSE has issued guidance to employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, on their duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella. If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the coronavirus outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease. See here for more information.

6. Waste Collection & HWRCs

Household Waste Recycling Centres

ENGLAND

01.06.20 Reasonable journey criteria removed from COVID-19 Regulations

The Government has removed the reference to travelling to HWRCs in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 as restrictions on travel have now been relaxed.

13.05.20 England amends COVID-19 Regulations to allow trips to HWRCS

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 have been amended today to clarify that a visit to a waste or recycling centre is a reasonable excuse for a journey outside the home.  A copy of the amending regulations is can be found here.

SCOTLAND

21.05.20 Scotland published recovery plan: Scottish Government has published Scotland’s Route map through and out of the crisis, providing details of a phased approach to lifting the current COVID-19 restrictions. The timetable includes plans to re-open HWRCs.

WALES

14.05.20 Welsh Government amends COVID-19 Regulations to allow trips to HWRCS

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 have been amended to facilitate the reopening of HWRCs. A copy of the amending regulations can be found here.

HWRC Guidance

ENGLAND

05.05.20 The Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has published guidance on Managing Household Waste Recycling Centres during the Coronavirus Pandemic. A supporting video was made available on social media which can be found here and a Government press release. Local Government Minister Simon Clarke and Environment Minister Rebecca Pow also wrote to councils urging them to re-open household waste and recycling centres where it is safe to do so, while managing social distancing requirements. The letter can be accessed here

04.05.20 NAWDO and other local authority network groups published detailed advice on the reopening of HWRCs which is available here.

SCOTLAND

27.05.20 Scottish Government published HWRC re-opening guidance

Joint Scottish Government and COSLA guidance has been published for Scottish local authorities on the considerations involved in reopening and operating Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in the context of COVID-19 and COSLA has confirmed that all local councils are working towards the re-starting of some HWRC services on 1 June 2020.

Waste PPE

19.05.20 Government and sector bodies issue public messaging to stop PPE in recycling

 Addressing rising concern about PPE appearing in recycling materials streams, Defra has published social media content on the disposal of PPE from non-healthcare settings. The content includes a video to highlight the correct disposal of PPE for members of the public, including the key message to dispose of PPE in black-bag waste and not to recycle it. This content can be shared with your networks.

A coalition of industry bodies including CIWM also issued a letter to the general public through the media today with further messages about the safe disposal of non-healthcare PPE which can be viewed here

Waste Collection Prioritisation

ENGLAND

08.04.20 Defra has issued guidance on waste collection prioritisation to assist local authorities.

WALES

15.04.20 Welsh Government has issued a non-statutory guidance note for service priority.

Healthcare waste management

27.05.20 Cleansing and PPE waste at a healthcare waste management facility: RPS C1

The Environment Agency has updated the Regulatory Position Statement on storing or treating coronavirus (COVID-19) cleansing and used PPE waste without having codes 15 02 02* or 15 02 03 in your permit.

See up-to-date list of other Regulatory Position Statements in Section 5

09.04.20 NHS England has issued guidance on the waste management approach for healthcare facilities in England and Wales. This standard operating procedure document sets out the waste management approach for all healthcare facilities including primary care facilities and testing facilities in England and Wales during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) aims to take simple and pragmatic approach to ensure that waste is managed in a safe manner. The document covers Trusts, ambulance trusts and community care by healthcare professionals. The SOP outlines the waste streams and routes they should take to ensure treatment facilities can identify and treat in the correct manner.

7. Regulation and Compliance

ENGLAND

28.05.20 Regulating the waste industry during the coronavirus pandemic

The Environment Agency is using technology to carry out its role as an effective regulator where face-to-face visits are restricted due to government guidelines.

22.05.20 Coronavirus: Environment Agency update

The Environment Agency has issued an update to stakeholders including a link to all its Covid-19 related Regulatory Position Statements

20.04.20 Environment Agency: Information about billing and payments during the Coronavirus pandemic
The Environment Agency has issued a letter to its regulatory stakeholders regarding flexibility related to charges and payments during the Coronavirus pandemic.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

22.04.20 Republic of Ireland: Funding Ring Fenced to tackle illegal dumping

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton announced that €1m of funds from the Anti Dumping Initiative will be ring-fenced to support efforts to tackle a reported increase in illegal dumping during the current COVID-19 crisis. Waste removal and the installation of CCTV or other monitoring and surveillance equipment will be among the activities supported.

SCOTLAND

21.05.20 SEPA launches dedicated waste hub

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), with partners, has launched an information hub to support Scotland’s recyclers and waste managers. Hosted on a dedicated section of managingourwaste.scot/wastemanagement, the resources provide information and signpost to the most up-to-date guidance on a range of topics, including support for businesses, environmental regulations, temporary regulatory positions and health and safety.

The campaign reinforces the legal responsibility to recycle and manage waste properly. There is also a warning to those who are seeking to use the opportunity of disruption to services to their criminal advantage, and a plea to businesses to help SEPA to tackle unscrupulous companies and individuals by reporting suspicious behaviour and making sure they only deal with legitimate waste companies.

Latest Regulatory Position Statements

Environment Agency

Natural Resources Wales

Scottish Environment Protection Agency COVID-19 – Waste Management

  • SEPA Regulatory Position Statement hub – outlines SEPA’s regulatory position and has a number of temporary regulatory positions and guidance.
  • SEPA Regulatory Position Statement covering Duty of Care transfer notes, hazardous waste compliance, and Transfrontier Shipment of Waste paperwork. It also underlines the importance of operators discussing any compliance issues they might face with SEPA as soon as possible and recognises some of the common issues/matters likely to be faced by licensed and permitted site operators. This is a live document and will be updated.

Technical Competence

The Environment Agency statement on Technically Competent Managers states:

There have been a number of queries around Technically Competent Managers (TCMs). This is generic advice across all waste sectors and we appreciate some operators may be closing sites following the restrictions imposed by the Government. However, we are sure others will remain open.

TCM attendance during COVID-19 restrictions

  • We understand that many operators will be concerned about how they can satisfy attendance requirements whilst sites are running on reduced staffing levels and staff may well be ill or self-isolating. We will be pragmatic in our approach.
  • There is still a requirement to have a technically competent person as a requirement of the permit.
  • The TCM attendance hours are within the guidance on GOV.UK and they are an indication that site activities are in being overseen by a technically competent manager.
  • Where the TCM is self-isolating or sick and cannot attend the site. The operator should be able and capable of operating the plant or site safely through both their EMS and operations training.
  • Operators should:
  • Review their training and capability structure to ensure roles, responsibilities and accident plans are in place and reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
  • Ensure that remote systems are operational. Alarms systems where required, are fully operational.
  • Have a responsive duty roster to respond to incidents.
  • Notify us here the site cannot be safely monitored.
  • Record if their nominated TCM(s) are self-isolating in the site diary.

Difficulties in taking Continuing Competence tests

In view of Pearson Vue test centres now being closed and Continuing Competence tests not currently available and until the current Governments advice changes, we will not regard the failure to complete a continuing competence assessment that becomes due after 16 March as being a failure to comply with the Wamitab Technical Competence scheme. If this applies to you or your Technically Competence Manager, please contact your EA local area team or account manager technical lead and Wamitab as soon as possible.

8. Business support schemes and announcements

ENGLAND

28.05.20 Working safely during COVID-19 – BEIS Webinars

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is holding a number of live webinars on working safely during coronavirus. The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace settings which are allowed to be open.

  • Working safely during coronavirus: construction & other outdoor work
  • Working safely during coronavirus: labs & research facilities
  • Working safely during coronavirus: offices & contact centres
  • Working safely during coronavirus: other people’s homes

Previous webinars can also be viewed on:

  • Financial support for small businesses during coronavirus
  • Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations and tax
  • Working safely during coronavirus: factories, plants and warehouses

20.05.20 Government introduces legislation to relieve burden on businesses and support economic recovery

The Government has introduced the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill in Parliament to put in place a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of COVID-19. The Bill consists of 6 insolvency measures and 2 corporate governance measures which introduce temporary easements and flexibility including:

  • introducing a new moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue
  • prohibiting termination clauses that engage on insolvency, preventing suppliers from ceasing their supply or asking for additional payments while a company is going through a rescue process
  • introducing a new restructuring plan that will bind creditors to it
  • enabling the insolvency regime to flex to meet the demands of the emergency
  • temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors who try to keep their companies afloat through the emergency
  • temporarily prohibiting creditors from filing statutory demands and winding up petitions for coronavirus related debts
  • temporarily easing burdens on businesses by enabling them to hold closed Annual General Meetings (AGMs), conduct business and communicate with members electronically, and by extending filing deadlines
  • allowing for the temporary measures to be retrospective so as to be as effective as possible

12.05.20 Businesses offering COVID-19-related support

Businesses that can offer their assistance to government by providing products and services, such as medical equipment, hotel rooms, transport and logistics, and expertise, can now do so.

12.05.20 The Government has announced an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The main points in the announcement are that:

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost the economy

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and employers can use the scheme anytime during this period. From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part time whilst still receiving support from the scheme and employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. These payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. More specific details and information around the implementation of the changes to the scheme will be made available by the end of May.

The latest advice and guidance for employees, employers and businesses on the range of support measure can be found here

Business Support Webinars

Government departments are hosting a series of webinars to help businesses understand the support available:

  • for topics that cover supporting and retaining staff and the self-employed, register to attend future webinars or watch recorded sessions
  • for international trade, register here
  • for small businesses, register here

02.04.20 Tax support

HMRC’s dedicated Tax Helpline on 0800 024 1222 is designed to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss specific circumstances to explore options including agreeing an instalment arrangement, suspending debt collection proceedings, cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately.

02.04.20 Landfill Tax operational flexibility

HMRC has provided clarification on available operational flexibility for landfill sites to reflect the operational impact of COVID-19. The briefing issued to the sector covers:

  • flexibility to reduce the handling of documentation at weighbridges
  • disruption to sampling of qualifying fines and Loss on Ignition tests

The full HMRC letter can be found here

NORTHERN IRELAND

21.05.20 Latest guidance for NI businesses

COVID-19 Guidance and information for NI Businesses & Employers has been updated and all the latest guidance is available here

SCOTLAND

30.04.20 Scottish Government announces new business support funding

Scottish Government has announced a £100 million package of additional grant support for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and newly self-employed people. The three separate funds will be administered by local authorities and Scotland’s enterprise agencies and will begin to pay out grants in early May. Applicants can access these funds via the www.FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot website. Information on all of the above funds can be found here along with detailed guidance notes.

WALES

In addition to the range of business support measures already announced by UK and Welsh Governments, including £1.4 billion to support Welsh businesses dealing with the coronavirus impact, Welsh Government has also put in place a £500 million fund aimed at supporting those firms who would not qualify from previously announced support packages.

The new £100m Development Bank of Wales fund will be available for companies who are experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic and will provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at favourable interest rates. Businesses will also be able to benefit from a £400m emergency pot providing:

  • Grants of £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people.
  • Grants of up to £100,000 for small and medium sized firms with between 10 and 249 employees.
  • Support for larger Welsh companies, which are of critical social or economic importance to Wales.

More details on the £500 million Economic Resilience Fund can be found here.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

The European Commission has approved a €200 million Irish scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme, called “Sustaining Enterprise Scheme”, was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020. More detail can be found here.

9. Employment matters

23.05.20 Coronavirus: apprenticeship programme guidance

The government has published guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19.

13.05.20 Shortage occupation list: call for evidence

The Government has published a consultation on the roles that are being filled by migrant workers, the salaries they are paid and implications of potential changes.

In March 2020, the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to compile a UK shortage occupation list (SOL), which will primarily focus on occupations at RQF Level 3-5 (medium skill). This is to be reported in September 2020. Reflecting the pressure on businesses as a result of COVID-19, alongside the main call for evidence, this consultation provides the opportunity options to submit more limited evidence or to register that you would have responded in different circumstances.

10. Public sector procurement support for suppliers

Procurement in exceptional circumstances: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015, with some fairly minor exceptions, apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland but not to Scotland.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 r32(2)(c) provides guidance on the specific cases and circumstances where contracting authorities may award public contracts by a negotiated procedure without prior publication.

One of the situations where this is allowed is where “for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with”. In addition, the regulations state “the circumstances invoked to justify extreme urgency must not in any event be attributable to the contracting authority”.

In England: the recently issued Information Note PPN 01/20 Responding to COVID-19 states that “in these exceptional circumstances, authorities may need to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency. Authorities are permitted to do this using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015”.

In Wales: Information Note PPN 01/20 Responding to COVID-19 also applies to Welsh local authorities

In Northern Ireland: No Procurement Guidance Note (PGN) analogous to PPN 01/20 has yet been issued. The latest PGN published is PGN 01/20 – https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/pgn-0120-supplier-relief-due-covid-19

SCOTLAND

Scottish Government has issued an policy note on public procurement during the COVID-19 crisis, Scottish Policy Note SPPN 4/2020, which lays out a set range of circumstances under which urgent procurement may be used:

  • call off contract from an existing framework agreement/Dynamic Purchasing System
  • modification of an existing contract
  • new procurement procedure – using accelerated timescales
  • direct award of a new contract
  • contract awarded under the light-touch regime
  • using the small lots option available in the regulations

Full guidance is provided in the policy note in respect of the steps that should be followed by Local Authority in exercising urgent procurement measures for each of the above and the legislative basis for the advice contained within the policy note is found in The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. The relevant provisions are very similar to those contained in the regulations in England, as they also derive from European Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement:

r33 (1)(c) of the 2015 Regulations:

“where (but only if it is strictly necessary) for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for open procedure, restricted procedure or competitive procedure with negotiation cannot be complied with”

r33(3) of the 2015 Regulations:

“For the purposes of paragraph (1)(c), the circumstances invoked to justify extreme urgency must not, in any event, be attributable to the contracting authority”.

CIWM is advised that all of these tests should be considered carefully by parties to an emergency procurement process to avoid subsequent challenge – clearly, the longer the pandemic lasts, the less likely it will be that the events could be construed as “unforeseeable”.

By contrast to the position in England, lower-value contracts (£50,000 goods/services £2,000,000 works, per the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014) are also regulated, by the Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016.

R6(1)(c) of the 2016 Regulations provides that:

“where (but only if it is strictly necessary) for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the authority considers it must proceed to award a contract without delay”, a contracting authority may award a public contract without seeking offers in relation to the proposed contract (provided also that the circumstances invoked to justify extreme urgency are not attributable to the LA).

This allows for expedited provision of low-value contracts, a position which is reflected by the Scottish Policy Note.

20.03.03 Policy Procurement Guidance from Cabinet Office
The Cabinet Office has published a Procurement Policy Note Action Note PPN 02/20 providing guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current COVID-19 outbreak.

11. Planning

LGA: Planning & COVID-19

LGA has provided a number of helpful resources for local government planners thinking about how to change and improve services in response to COVID-19 here.

13.05.20 New planning guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

In response to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), MHCLG has published updated on planning matters, including temporary measures to make it easier to operate the planning system. The updated planning guidance includes references to key Ministerial Statements on planning matters, including on Virtual Working and Planning and public consultation on applications.

A regulatory amendment to the Town & Country Planning Act allow planning authorities and applicants to adopt a more flexible approach towards publicity and consultation came into force on the 14th May 2020 and the changes will apply until the 31st December 2020. The Statutory Instrument is here and the Explanatory Memorandum is here.

An update was issued on 13th May (updated 18th May) on the PINS website to reflect the announcement made by MHCLG Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick. This provides a summary of the steps being taken by PINS to ensure the planning system supports the recovery and growth of the national economy, and includes a resumption of site visits and an accelerated roll-out of the use of digital events.

12. Transport and logistics

29.05.20 Department of Transport extend relaxation of GB drivers’ hours rules but not EU drivers’

Due to the exceptional circumstances stemming from the Covid-19 outbreak and the unprecedented pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department of Transport authorised a general temporary relaxation of the enforcement of both the EU and GB domestic drivers’ hours rules, for drivers undertaking carriage of goods by road in England; Scotland and Wales, from 23 March to 31 May 2020.

Following a recent review of the current evidence the Department has decided not to extend the relaxation of the EU drivers’ hours rules, which will end at 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.

The relaxation of the GB domestic drivers’ hours rules will continue until 23:59 on Sunday 14 June 2020. This continued relaxation will remain under review.

The online notification has now been updated and any questions about these relaxations should be addressed to: RSSSFOLRCOVID19@dft.gov.uk

17.04.20 Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules

The Department for Transport updated its temporary relaxation of the EU and GB drivers’ hours rules for drivers carrying goods by road. The relaxation runs until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020 and anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relaxations where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys. There is additional guidance available here COVID-19: guidance on drivers’ hours relaxations

20.03.20 Driving tests and MOTs for heavy vehicles suspended for up to 3 months

Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency has suspended MOT testing and suspended driver testing except for those working in critical sectors. More information here.

This temporary suspension is being kept under review.

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